Understanding the Fear of the LORD

In a combined worship service, Pastor Gerald preached a powerful message about the Fear of the LORD.

Source: Understanding the Fear of the LORD

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Understanding the Fear of the LORD

In a combined worship service, Pastor Gerald preached a powerful message about the Fear of the LORD.

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Leave a comment

God’s Help in Times of Trouble

Psalm 50:15 – And call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor me.

This verse now has a completely new meaning to me. And I would love to share it with you. Recently, my wife had to undergo a Cardiac Catherization. She had been complaining of chest pains, shortness of breath, all symptoms that correlate to heart disease, heart attack, or coronary artery disease (which just so happens to run in her family). When they took my wife back to do the procedure, I found myself walking the hallway seeking the chapel of the hospital. I knew it would be quiet there, and I knew I could let my emotions out in a secluded and private place.

I found a pew, sat down, and began to weep. Thoughts swirled around my head. What happens if she doesn’t make it out of the procedure? What will I do without her? And so I cried out to the LORD and I distinctly remember using the word “Daddy” for the very first time. My sobbing seemed to overtake me. The words would not come out. It was then that it happened. I had and encounter with God.

My eyes looked up at the small altar in the front of the chapel room and there was an open Bible. As soon as I saw the Bible, this thought came to my mind, “Isaiah 41:10.” So I stood. I walked up to the Bible and flipped the pages. And this is what I found:

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Once I saw those words, I again began to weep uncontrollably because it was then that I knew that no matter what happened to my wife, whether she lived or died, God was still…God. He knew everything that was going to happen and He was in control of it all. It was there, at that altar that I resigned to letting God be God and trusting that whatever happened next, He would help me through it (by the way, my wife’s test came back GREAT…her cardiologist says she has a very strong heart and her arteries are…and I quote, “incredible”).

Well, later that day as I went back home to get some things to bring back to the hospital I passed a church that had the above verse on it and that’s when God showed me something else, something new…

People run to God for Him to solve their problem, to get them out of a jam, to raise their income, to get them that promotion, to fix this and grant that. People even want to make bargains with God. But when you look at how God helps us, it isn’t by fixing the problems in our lives. No. Instead of fixing our problems, HE SHOWS US MORE OF HIMSELF. And guess what happens when you encounter God. You have a burning passion to tell someone else about this Great God you just encountered and how He helped you.

So today, look past your problem to the problem solver. Let God be God. You be you…his servant. All of the times He comes to your rescue are opportunities to learn more about Him, not for Him to be your department store fixer upper. God is so much more than just your problem solver.

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American Sniper vs. God’s Honor

I saw that a new movie came out called “American Sniper.” Many of my brothers and sisters in Christ have talked highly about the movie on social media and even in the workplace. Some said it was “awesome,” something they, “really got into,” and still others said, “it was an incredible flick.” I had the idea to go see the movie with my wife. But before we go to any movie, we like to check a website called, “Kids in Mind.” This website tells you all about what is in the movie as far as nudity, profanity and the like. When I went to check out this movie, I found that there was plenty of profanity.

But it’s a war movie…there’s going to be profanity right? I understood that idea, but this was the part that really got me: According to the website 7 (SEVEN) different times the Lord’s name is taken in vain by using – GD. There are apparently more than a half dozen more what they claim, “religious exclamations.”

But it’s a war movie…there’s going to be profanity…right?

When I saw that the Lord’s name was taken in vain so many times it really set me back. I was reminded of the passage in Malachi that says, “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect? Says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests who despise My name.”

What has happened to us that we would actually delight in a movie that takes the name of the LORD and misuses it? Where is God’s honor…IN OUR LIVES? What does it say about our testimony as, “a chosen people…a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9) of God when we agree that it is acceptable to take the money that God has given us to steward and use it to hear His name blasphemed?

Please understand me, I am not judging anyone, nor do I wish to point fingers. I will be the first to tell you that I have fallen in this same manner…many times. I guess this is a heart check…for all of us.

But the great thing is that our God forgives. He knows we fall sometimes and with His grace and guidance He helps us back up again.

So what do you say brothers and sisters in Christ? Let’s get back to the place we need to be! Let’s take the Name of the LORD and share it the way it’s intended to be! Let us use His Name in the honor He deserves!

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Spiritual Lessons I Learned…From The Game Of Golf: Part 3

Jeremiah 29:13 “And you will seek Me and find Me when you search Me with all your heart.”

“You will get better the more you practice.” When those words came from my golf instructor, it seemed logical to me. Over the past three months he has shown me the basic necessities to the golf swing, how to putt, chip, pitch, and get out of a bunker. By the end of each lesson, I understood the overall basics of what I was taught. But I realized that I would become rusty quickly if I didn’t practice what I learned.

Golf is not something you can just learn to do one time and you get as good as the other guys by osmosis. You have to practice. You have to spend time getting the muscle memory formed. You have to do things repetitiously in order for it to be of benefit to you. And here’s what I’ve found so far. The things I’ve spent time practicing are the very things I find myself getting better at! I used to struggle to hit my irons from the fairway. But after taking what I was taught by my golf instructor and hitting a ton of balls at the range and using the correct swing mechanics (which really is a natural swing), I’m hitting the ball better than I ever have!

Growing with God is NO DIFFERENT. How can we as believers think that since we’ve trusted Christ as Savior that God will impart all knowledge and wisdom to us…without spending time with Him? In order to know God more we must be willing to take the time to spend with Him and learn from Him. It’s something we should do over and over. It needs to become a part of who we are. We should never, ever, ever try to fit God into our schedule. We should fit our schedule around God. And it isn’t like we should just drop a prayer and read a chapter in the A.M. then go about our merry way. He is with us ALWAYS (Matthew 28:20). And if He is with you always, just like He’s with you right this very moment, shouldn’t we acknowledge His presence? We need to get into the repetition, the practice, the habit of telling God that we love Him, need Him, and desire to know more of Him. Think about it, Jesus said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing (John 15:5).” That’s nothing of value…that’s producing the fruit of righteousness.

I’ve heard it said many times, “Right now, you are as close to God as you want to be.” Wouldn’t you like to be closer? We say we do, but do we do what we say?

I enjoy the game of golf, but not as much as I enjoy spending time with God. Don’t misunderstand me…I WASN’T ALWAYS THAT WAY. I’ve had my priorities messed up a few times. But by the grace of God, He led me back to Himself. And I have to tell you, this verse from Jeremiah 29 is true. He is faithful to keep His promises.

But there is a condition. We have to put something into it. We need to spend time at the range. We need to work on the different aspects of our game (our life) according to what the Great Instructor has taught us. And we have to give it our best, our all, our hearts.

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Spiritual Lessons I Learned…From The Game Of Golf: Part 2

Romans 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

You have probably heard the saying, “Attitude is Everything.” Such is the case in the game of golf. Let me take you back a few years when I used to live in upstate New York. The company I worked for held a golf tournament at one of the more prestigious golf courses in the area. I was so excited! I really wanted to go out and play well. I wanted all my work buddies to know how good a golfer I was. Once the event was announced, I immediately began to “get in shape.” I not only wanted to play in that tournament, I wanted to win that tournament. Bad…real bad. I went on a strict diet and exercise program. I spent days upon days at the driving range (which was hard to do once the winter months came). But finally, the time came and the week of the tournament was on me. I got into my best “beat em” mode. I became focused on what it would feel like once I hoisted the trophy. I could imagine the rest of the field giving me a pat on the back after my round was over as I had pretty much obliterated the competition. I was dead set on winning.

That Saturday morning I remember like it was yesterday. A stray shower passed by early in the wee hours but the front passed by the time we got to the course. We were given our parings and out to the first tee we went. In my mind all I could see was my victory! I proudly walked up to the tee with a stone cold look on my face. I glared down the fairway, envisioning what my first shot would look like. As I stood on the first tee…all eyes were on me. I took my stance…addressed the ball…and started my backswing. Then came the downswing…SMACK!! My driver made contact with the ball. The only thing was…I “topped” it (meaning my club hit the top of the ball and the ball went into the ground rather that up in the air). My tee shot on that first tee went about 40 yards. From that point on…I had the worst golf outing I had ever had. I believe I shot upwards toward 130 (about 60 shots more than a golfer is supposed to). After it was all said and done…I came in dead last. The reason? My attitude.

You see, I didn’t go out to the course to enjoy the company that was with me. I didn’t go out to have fun. I wanted to win. I saw people as an obstacle to overcome. Numbers I had to jump over. I didn’t need comradery…I needed to win. Through that experience God taught me another valuable lesson: YOUR ATTITUDE MATTERS.

In today’s verse we see God calling us to do more than focus on ourselves. The outcome of His calling is to enjoy, help, and encourage other people (thus proving what the will of God is, which happens to be PERFECT). But if we have a bad attitude all the time, we won’t help anyone. Not even ourselves. Even if we think we can. A couple things we really should focus on here. The words “not be conformed,” and “be transformed” are all in what we Greek geeks call an imperative. Meaning it is a command. This command is from the author…who happens to be God. So God is commanding us to not be conformed to the world (be all about you and yours) and be transformed (changed into something new). The first place we must all start…you guessed it…our attitude.

What do you focus on? You or others? Keeping your word or taking care of what you want (not what you need) first? Tearing people down or building people up (no matter how hard it may seem)?

What kinds of words do you speak? Harsh, judgmental, cynical, depressing, and angry words? Or loving, caring, compassionate, benefit-of-the-doubt, uplifting words?

Do you see people as obstacles…or opportunities.

It all starts with our attitude.

So take moment to envision me on that first tee. Hard, cold, focused, and fixated toward winning. And ask yourself, “If that were me, what would happen when I swung the club?

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Spiritual Lessons I Learned…From The Game Of Golf: Part 1

Matthew 11:29 “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and YOU SHALL FIND REST FOR YOU SOULS.”

A while back, I received some golf lessons for my birthday. It was only recently that I was able to begin to use them. For those that know me you probably know that I am an avid golfer. I love the sport. I love playing it, I like watching it, and I like learning more about how to get better at it.

A few weeks ago, I found myself asking the question, “What in the world does the game of golf have to do with Jesus?” It was then that I started out on a “quest” of sorts. The Lord, in His unbounding grace, began to show me SEVERAL key spiritual lessons for life from playing the game of golf. Even if you don’t play golf or even understand the sport…the spiritual gems God has given us through this game are incredible at best.

The first lesson He taught me, and the first one I will share with you is this: THE HARDER I TRY…THE WORSE IT GETS. What do I mean by that? In the game of golf, it is important that your body remain relaxed during the swing. If you attempt to “help the ball” by gripping the club tighter, swinging harder, or faster…bad things happen. Your mechanics will break down and you can actually lose power by gripping the club harder. This is because the tension that your arms create cause your body to tense and can take you out of a good alignment to hit the ball properly. The reason for this is  because in the game of golf, the swing should be natural. It should never be forced. When it is, things go wrong…quickly.

The same lesson I am finding painfully true in my life. As a believer, when I try to “help” God with His work, things tend to go haywire. The things in life that I think should go a certain way…rarely do. This is mainly because of the fact that God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). But in the passage from this morning, Jesus is asking us to take HIS yoke upon us and learn from HIM. We aren’t called to take the world on our shoulders and find out what man says is the best way to do things (although this is a very common occurrence, even in churches today).

When I do relax and make my golf swing naturally, I hit the ball well…and…it brings me joy (yes…joy!!). Such is the case in my life. When I live by God’s Word and do what He calls me to do, I tend to live a…ready…joy filled life. One thing that I want to point out here. Notice at the end of this verse what Jesus says. When we live according to His ways, we find rest for our souls. You see, the soul is the part of you (because we all have a body, spirit, and soul – 1 Thess. 5:23) that still has that nasty old nature that is bent on pleasing self. Our spirits are made new because when we trust Christ we have the Holy Spirit sealed within us. But the battle rages between the soul and the spirit. This is why Jesus tells us that when we learn from Him we can find rest for our souls.

When we try so hard to do good all the time we tend to find all the flaws in our lives because they don’t match up with the outcome we want (like a good ball flight). But if we just trusted our swing…er…trusted God in our lives, we’ll begin to notice the times God has used us for bringing Him glory instead of the mistakes that we’ve made. Which are going to happen…because…after all…we’re human. And no human can be perfect, just like no golf swing will ever be perfect. But that’s a lesson for another day.

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